As the qualifying stage has ended, the real test of Bangladesh begins today in Super 12.
All 15 players need to be at their best and may play a crucial role for any given game. Here is FE’s ideal XI for Bangladesh going into the Super 12s.
Openers - Naim Sheikh and Afif Hossain
Naim Sheikh has been Bangladesh's most consistent opener in T20Is for almost a year. His strike rate has been a concern but he has shown his ability to accelerate, against Oman, earlier in the tournament.
His ability to anchor and pace the innings puts him ahead of the other contenders. In 18 innings in 2021, he has scored 401 runs.
Afif Hossain’s name may come as a surprise as he has never opened in a T20I before. However, he has always been best suited to the top order. His best season of T20 cricket came in the 2019-20 edition of the BPL, where he scored 370 runs and opened for the majority of the tournament. His naturally aggressive approach may take some pressure off Naim Sheikh.
More importantly, both Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar have struggled immensely in the recent past and Das, who would otherwise have been a certain choice, has failed to score a single T20I half-century in this calendar year.
No.3 - Shakib Al Hassan
Regarded as Bangladesh’s all-time best player, Shakib has really come to his own in the previous two matches and has shown why he belongs at this important batting position. As always, a lot will ride on his shoulders. Fans would also be hoping he continues his good form with the ball.
No.4 - Mushfiqur Rahim
Mushfiqur Rahim has been out of the nick for a while and that will worry Bangladesh think-tank and fans. However, his experience and ability to man the middle order will be vital to the team’s chances.
Furthermore, since 2018, Rahim has averaged 86 at a strike rate of 160 against Sri Lanka in T20Is and they happen to be Bangladesh’s very first Super 12 opponent. There may never be a better time for Rahim to regain form.
No.5 - Mahmudullah
The captain of Bangladesh looked at his best against PNG in the last Group stage game his team played and would look to carry on that form going into the upcoming matches. His performance has always been a critical determinant of Bangladesh's success in the latter part of the batting innings.
No.6 - Nurul Hasan
Nurul has been terrific so far with the gloves but will need to bring his A-game with the bat in hand. He showed his batting potential as a middle-order batsman in this year’s DPL and would need to replicate something similar to ensure less pressure falls on the team’s top 5.
No.7 - Shamim Hossain
Shamim Hossain’s is another name many wouldn't expect in an ideal XI, given he hasn’t done enough on the international stage. However, his role isn’t that of a consistent middle-order batter, rather a finisher who will, on their day, turn any game on its head.
His failing to score big will seldom hinder the team’s chances. Given how deep the team bats, Shamim could be the ideal X-factor. He can also give his captain a few overs of off-spin if needed.
No.8 and 9 - Mohammad Saifuddin and Sheikh Mahedi Hassan
Saifuddin and Mahedi have performed exceptionally well in the group stage matches. They’ll look to carry on their consistent performance with the ball. Against Scotland and PNG, Mahedi and Saifuddin, respectively, performed well with the bat in hand and showed their ability to get crucial boundaries at the death.
No.10 & 11 - Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman
Taskin and Mustafizur have not been at their best in the Group stage but have done just enough to retain their place in the XI. Their sheer potential alone is enough to justify their presence but they have to tweak their accuracy, specifically by bowling fuller, on average.
Mustafizur’s recent experience of playing half a season of the IPL in the UAE will be particularly handy.